Pam Schaffer: Back on Dry Land- a Reflection, July 14, 2017

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Pam Schaffer

Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

[July 2-10, 2018]

Mission: ACCESS Cruise

Geographic Area of Cruise: North Pacific:  Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Photo of Pam Schaffer wearing hard hat

Pam Schaffer, NOAA Teacher at Sea

All I can say about my NOAA Teacher at Sea experience is WOW- what an incredible experience.   Thank you to everyone at the NOAA Teacher at Sea program, the crew of the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada, the ACCESS research scientists on-board and the staff of the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.     I’d particularly like to thank Dr. Jaime Jahncke for teaching me how to collect and process zooplanton samples using the Tucker Trawler and enabling me to become a trusted member of his research team.

During the cruise, I learned so much about the work of oceanographers, marine biologists and ecologists.  I’ve sailed in these waters in my own sail boat many times but I’ve never seen the sanctuaries through the lens of a researcher.  The care and attention to detail taken during marine wildlife observations and the collection of  zooplankton and phytoplankton samples throughout the water column reveals an incredibly rich and abundant ecosystem.  The data collected will be shared with scientists around the world and helps us better understand and manage the health of our oceans.

The experience has given me lots of great ideas for lessons that I think will engage students and get them excited about knowing more about the ocean. I can hardly wait for the next school year to start so that I can share this amazing experience with students and facilitate learning experiences to inspire future scientists.

Here are some great wildlife pictures that I wanted to share earlier but the connectivity on the vessel was really limited and I wasn’t able to post them.

Humpback whale tail

Humpback Whale Tail. Photo credit: Julie Chase/NOAA/ACCESS/Point BLUE

humpback whale fin

Hump back Whale Fin. Photo Credit: Dru Devlin/NOAA/ACCESS/Point Blue

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

Pacific White-sided Dolphin. Photo Credit: Dru Devlin/NOAA/ACCESS/Point Blue

Black Footed Albatross

Black Footed Albatross. Photo Credit: Julie Chase/NOAA/ACCESS/Point Blue

squid

Squid. Photo Credit: Ryan Anderson/NOAA/ACCESS/Point Blue

nazca boobie

Nazca Boobie- from the Galapagos. Photo Credit: Julie Chase/NOAA/ACCESS/Point Blue

sooty shearwater

Sooty Shearwater. Photo Credit: Julie Chase/ NOAA/ACCESS/Point Blue

Pam Schaffer: Getting Our “Sea Legs” and Getting to Work, July 3, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Pam Schaffer

Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada

[July 2-10, 2018]

Mission: ACCESS Cruise

Geographic Area of Cruise: North Pacific:  Greater Farallones Nation Marine Sanctuary, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Weather Data from the Bridge.

Date July 3 2018
Time 1200  (noon)
Latitude 37° 49.5’ N
Longitude 122° 48.1’ W
Present Weather/ Sky Cloudy
Visibility (nm) 10
Wind Direction (tree) 172°
Wind Speed (kts) 12
Atmospheric Pressure (mb) 1027
Sea Wave Height (ft) N/A
Swell Waves Direction (true) 290°
Swell Waves Height (ft) 3-5
Temperature  Sea Water (C) 13.6°
Temp Dry bulb (C)

Air Temperature

14.2°
Temp Wet Bulb (C ) 11.9°

Science and Technology Log

After leaving San Francisco Bay, yesterday we headed west and spent the day getting our “sea legs” and collecting observations of marine mammals and birds in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary waters.    We began collecting data around 1300 hrs from 37° 47′ 52.4“ N  122° 53’ 31.2” W and headed west towards the continental shelf break approximately 30 miles off shore.

ACCESS Research Team Departing San Francisco Bay

ACCESS Research Team Departing San Francisco Bay

Throughout the day we followed a series of predetermined tracks (referred to as transects) and collected counts of the abundant life thriving in the sanctuary.   We saw numerous Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Humpbacks and dolphins.   We also had a sighting of a strange prehistoric looking fish called a Mola mola (common name: Ocean Sunfish).   Mola Mola are the largest bony fish in the world and are playfully described small dinner plates and can grow to as large as a smart car.    They tend to live in deep water so seeing one at the surface is a real treat.   Their distinctive dorsal and ventral fins are quite long and their pectoral fins (the ones on the sides) are quite short and stubby.  They dine on jelly fish and need to eat a lot in order to develop and sustain their substantial bulk. Members of the ACCESS survey team have observed Mola slurping up Velella velella ( common name: Sea Raft) a type of free-floating hydrozoan that lives on the ocean surface.

Mola Mola feeding at surface

Mola Mola feeding at surface

 

Personal Log

My free time has been getting accustomed to being at sea again and getting to know my new colleagues.   The internet onboard is very limited and we have 40 users sharing it so getting blogs out is proving to be more challenging than I’d anticipated

Did You Know?

The terms “port” and “starboard” are used as to indicate the left and right sides of a ship. “Starboard comes from the Old English “steorbord”, meaning the side on which the ship is steered. Before rudders (which are located in the centerline), early ships had a steering oar and because most people are right handed it was located on the right hand side of the ship.  Because the steering oar needed to be out of the way when docking the opposite side of the boat traditionally was the side that was closest to the pier. Hence “port” refers to the left side of a ship if you are looking towards the front of the ship.  The front of a ship is called a “bow”.

Pam Schaffer: Welcome Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada, July 2, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Pam Schaffer

Aboard NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada

July 2, 2018 – July 10, 2018

 

Today begins a nine day NOAA research cruise on NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada.  Presently, we’re docked in San Francisco and will head out the gate at 0900 tomorrow.   I’m  really excited to be part of a team of 12 scientists and specialists conducting research in the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.  I plan to blog often (connectivity permitting) throughout the journey and to share the details of our work.

NOAA-Ship-Bell-M.-Shimada-underway_Photo-courtesy-NOAA

NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada (photo credit: NOAA)

A bit about the ship-  NOAA ship Bell M Shimada was commissioned by NOAA in 2010.   Her home Port is Newport Oregon, and she supports research activities on the West Coast of the United States.   She’s 209 feet long and weighs 2479 tons, has a cruising range of 13,800 miles and travels at 11 knots (12.6 mph).  Shimada is an impressive vessel and is uniquely capable of conducting fisheries, oceanographic research and hydrographic studies.  She is considered to be one of the most advanced fisheries research vessels in the world.   Her stern looks very similar to a commercial fishing vessel and is capable of deploying large trawling nets for research to depths of 3,500 meters (11,483 feet).   Shimada uses specialized acoustic quieting technology developed by the U.S. Navy to monitor fish populations without disturbing the fish and altering their behavior.  She also has a Scientific Sonar System, used to measure the biomass of fish populations in a survey area.  Her acoustic profiling system enables scientists to gather data on ocean currents and provides information on the content of the water column and the topography of the seafloor.  In addition to sending out smaller sampling nets, longlines, and fish traps she can also deploy instruments to measure the electrical conductivity (used to determine salinity), temperature, depth (CTD) and chlorophyll fluorescence of sea water.  You can learn more about the ship here: https://www.omao.noaa.gov/learn/marine-operations/ships/bell-m-shimada/about

It’s a delight and an honor to be part of the ACCESS research team on NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada.

 

 

 

 

Dana Chu: Introduction, May 12, 2016

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Dana Chu
(Almost) Aboard NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada
May 13-22, 2016

Mission: Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies (ACCESS) is a working partnership between Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and Point Blue Conservation Science to survey the oceanographic conditions that influence and drive the availability of prey species (i.e., krill) to predators (i.e., marine mammals and sea birds).

Geographical area of cruise:  Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries (all off the coast of California)

Date:  Thursday, May 12, 2016

Personal Log

TAS Dana Chu profile picHello from Sacramento, California! My name is Dana Chu and I am a Math and Science teacher and an Education Specialist at Florin High School.   This year I also teach a class called Multiple Strategies for Academics and Transitions and support a Spanish 1 class.   Florin High School has a diverse population of over 1,400 students that speak nineteen different languages. After school, I serve as an advisor to the Florin High School Watershed Team which is composed of students from all grade levels.

TAS Dana Chu watershed team

Florin HS Watershed Team at the American River Clean Up, September 2015

I am a firm believer that providing students with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in wildlife areas and natural habitats is the key to inspiring them to become responsible stewards of their environment, both land and water. Our school is within walking distance of several local creeks. The Cosumnes River Preserve and the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, both of which serve as protected habitat and crucial feeding ground for migrating birds, are a short drive away.   We are also fortunate to be close to the American River where anadromous fish such as the Chinook salmon and Steelhead trout spawn. Salmon fry raised in the classroom through the Fish in the Classroom Program from Nimbus Fish Hatchery will be released there. Throughout the year, some of our students participate on field trips to these locations.   I can’t wait to share my Teacher at Sea experience with all of my students, especially because the water from our local creek and rivers eventually all feed into the ocean.

TAS Dana Chu watching sandhill cranes

Students from the Watershed Team watch Sandhill Cranes fly in to roost for the evening. This field trip was made possible by the Save Our Sandhill Cranes non-profit organization.

I applied for the NOAA Teacher at Sea program because I am very interested in sea turtles, ocean plastic pollution, and birds. I love being out on water whenever the opportunity arises and taking photographs of nature. I also want to learn from and directly work with scientists in the field. Having never traveled in the ocean for an extended period of time before, this research trip is a unique and exciting learning opportunity and chance for me to engage in many first-hand experiences. With ocean plastic pollution being a serious issue, I wonder what we will come across during the days while I am at sea. I can’t wait to sail out on the NOAA Ship Bell Shimada and to assist with scientific research in the Pacific Ocean! For more specific details on this expedition, please check the links for the Ship and the Mission.

TAS Dana Chu kayaking

This is a photo of me kayaking in Costa Rica in 2014.

In the meantime, I am in the midst of preparing for my upcoming scientific adventure. I am packing the last items needed for this research trip.   At school, the 9th graders are finishing up the Water and Ocean unit with a marine animal research project. I hope to bring back relevant information to share. My 11th graders are working on their career transition portfolios and mock job interviews. I look forward to learning about the different types of scientific and marine careers available from the members of this research cruise so I can inform my students of other potential careers they might have not considered.

When you hear from me next, I will have sailed out of San Francisco, California and experienced my first days of working and living at sea. I look forward to seeing the various pelagic birds plus marine mammals and invertebrates within their natural habitat. I am so excited to be part of this expedition!